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When shopping for a family hauler, buyers have the choice of a minivan or a crossover SUV. The minivan might be the better choice if overall interior volume is important, and the crossover may very well suit the needs of those who place a high priority on rugged build and innovative interior design. Honda has a couple of appealing choices. The 2020 Odyssey is one of the most popular minivans on the market, and the 2020 Pilot is a highly rated three-row mid-size crossover.
The Odyssey has a cavernous interior, and although it starts out at around $30,000, it's actually pretty luxurious. It's available in a total of five trims. The mid-size, three-row Pilot is similarly priced and offers as much passenger headroom and legroom as do many of the larger models in the three-row vehicle class. Below, the two models are compared in detail, and this information should help make the purchase decision a bit easier.
Size And Styling
Being a minivan, the 2020 Honda Pilot is a large vehicle. It has enormous side doors that slide open easily, and access to the rear seating area is tops in this segment. All but the base trim come with power-sliding rear doors. The seats are well-spaced, and outward visibility is excellent. With the seats folded, the Odyssey boasts 150 cubic feet of cargo space, easily outpacing the competition.
Climbing aboard is a breeze thanks to the low step-in height. The Odyssey has lots of grab handles, and it's easy to close the sliding doors even after sitting down in the rear seating areas.
The 2020 Honda Pilot is considered a mid-size crossover, but once inside, it seems much larger. Seating for up to eight is available, and the third row is spacious enough for adults. With the second- and third-row seats folded, the Pilot offers more than 84 cubic feet of storage. It also boasts a good amount of storage space under the load floor. If small item storage is important, the Pilot is a good choice because of the abundance of pockets, cubbies, and cupholders.
Minivans are often thought of as the dinosaurs of the auto world. Indeed, some models are cumbersome to drive, but that's not the case with the 2020 Honda Odyssey. Powered by a capable V6 with a 280-horsepower output, this model accelerates nicely and performs marvelously at high speeds. All Odyssey trims have a 10-speed automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive is standard.
Steering is very precise, and handling is among the most stable in the minivan vehicle class. Minivans aren't exactly known for their superior suspension and shock absorbers, but the Odyssey soaks up road bumps with ease. Paddle shifters are standard, making it easy for the driver to switch gears on the fly.
Even with a full load of passengers and cargo, it's easy to get this big machine flying up the freeway on-ramp. On level surfaces, the Odyssey goes from a full stop to 60 mph in just over seven and one-half seconds, an excellent time for a minivan. The driver and passengers notice virtually no engine noise during acceleration, and wind noise is substantially dampened thanks to superior noise-reducing technology.
The 2020 Honda Pilot also comes with a V6 engine as standard. This engine puts out 280 horsepower, and six-speed automatic transmission is standard on the lower trims. The Touring and above trims have a nine-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard on the lower trims, while the top trims have all-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is offered as an option on the lower trims.
Most mid-size SUVs are rather slow to accelerate, especially if they are powered by a four-cylinder engine. The Pilot's engine has plenty of power from the start, and acceleration from a full stop to 60 mph takes just seven seconds. The brakes are firm but not overly harsh, and they have a relatively consistent feel.
On the open road, the Pilot feels much lighter than it really is. It handles nicely on twisting roadways, and although the ground clearance isn't on par with models capable of tackling the off-roads, the available all-wheel drive really helps out when traveling over slippery roadways.
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Comfort, Options, And High-Tech
Both of these models are designed with passenger comfort in mind. They aren't luxurious in terms of standard convenience features and upholstery, but they're certainly comfortable and pleasing to ride in. The 2020 Honda Odyssey base trim is nicely equipped on the interior, with a seven-speaker audio system, a 5-inch central display screen, and two USB ports being among the long list of standard features. The base trim even has auxiliary audio inputs.
The 60/40-split folding third-row seat is easy to operate. The front seats are power-adjustable, and the air conditioning is three-zone automatic. Moving up to the EX trim, add-ons include an enhanced sliding second-row seat adjustment, a removable center seat, and an 8-inch screen display. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard on this and all of the higher trims.
The EX-L adds on a few more convenience features including sound-reducing glass, a sunroof, and full leather upholstery. Also standard on this and the higher trims is a cabin intercom system. Passengers will enjoy the 10.2-inch overhead second-row display screen. The Touring trim has some really nice add-ons as well. These include a vacuum cleaner, a hands-free liftgate, and the CabinWatch system that allows the driver to observe the rear seats.
The Elite trim really piles on the goodies. Standard features include a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, and a wireless phone charger. This trim also gets a premium audio system.
In comparison, the 2020 Honda Pilot base trim is similarly equipped as the Odyssey. The main difference is the lack of Bluetooth on the Pilot LX trim. As one moves up the trim ladder, the Pilot offers more and more goodies. The mid-level trims boast heated mirrors, tri-zone climate control, and heated front seats. If the EX-L trim is chosen, the rewards include leather upholstery and a sunroof. Also standard on this trim is second-row USB ports.
The Touring and Elite trims get their own special set of convenience features. The Touring trim comes with sound-reducing front door glass, heated rear seats, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. The Elite also has these features and adds on second-row captain's chairs that reduces the capacity to seven individuals. The front seats are ventilated, and the sunroof is of the panoramic variety.
The mid-level EX-L trim can be purchased with a rear entertainment system and navigation, and these options are standard on the Touring and Elite trims. Otherwise, there aren't any special package options available for this model, something that Honda is known for. This is true with the Odyssey model as well. No package add-ons are available, so it's really just a matter of selecting the trim with the most desirable features.
Overall, both the Odyssey and Pilot have above-average quality upholstery and carpeting. There are very few hard plastic surfaces, and even the interior door surfaces and window pillars are pretty soft to the touch. The seat padding on the Odyssey is a bit on the firm side, but the seat contours are pleasing, and passengers won't begin to ache on those long-distance road trips. The Pilot also has comfortable seats, and the front seats have an incredible range of adjustability.
To summarize, both models offer a long list of standard convenience features on the lower trims. Keep in mind that leather upholstery is not available on the lower trims, and there aren't any special package add-ons available for either model.
Honda is known for its superior safety and security systems, and most of its models are loaded with driver aids, even on the base trims. The 2020 Honda Odyssey has a full set of airbags including roof bags for the rear seating areas, traction control, stability control, and a rearview camera. All but the base trim come with the driver aid suite. This includes adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring. Forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking is also standard.
The LATCH system of child seat anchors and tethers is also included. The anchors are easy to locate, and the tethers can be fixed without having to dig down between the seats. The sliding doors have child-proof safety locks.
Buyers can add on additional safety features, but most of the options on the lower trims are standard on the Touring and Elite trims. These include the lane keeping assist system, the collision mitigation system that monitors what's ahead of the vehicle and applies the brakes if needed, and the HondaLink system. This is a security bundle that includes roadside assistance, collision notification, and other telematics systems.
The 2020 Honda Pilot comes with the same basic safety features. The stability and traction control are standard, and the airbag system includes full-length curtain bags for the second- and third-row seating areas. The list of driver aids is impressive. Even the base trim comes with a rearview camera, lane keeping assist, and collision mitigation. The blind-spot monitor includes rear cross-traffic alert.
The Pilot also has automatic high-beam assist. Adaptive cruise control is standard across the trim lineup.
The 2020 Honda Odyssey was awarded five stars for overall crash protection by the NHTSA. This includes five stars for frontal barrier rating, side crash rating, and side barrier rating. The 2020 Honda Pilot also received a perfect five start rating including a five-star rating for side crash protection.
To summarize, the 2020 Honda Pilot offers more driver aids on the lower trims, but this is pretty standard for the industry. Crossovers tend to have more safety features than minivans, but the 2020 Honda Odyssey does have an impressive list of safety features on the higher trims. Neither model offers a package that includes driver aids, so the buyer will have to choose between the available trims.
Which Model To Choose?
It really depends on what body style is preferred. The 2020 Honda Odyssey has a larger interior, and it boasts a more passenger-friendly cabin in terms of the ability to move about the cabin. The 2020 Honda Pilot is a mid-size three-row crossover, and that means a slightly tighter space on the inside. That being said, the Pilot gets high marks for rear-seat headroom and legroom, and it comes with a longer list of standard safety features than does the Odyssey. Neither model is considered off-road capable, but the Pilot can be purchased with all-wheel drive.
Those looking for something that's big but easy to drive should definitely check out the 2020 Odyssey. It performs better than just about any other minivan on the market. On the other hand, if a more upscale interior and lots of standard high-tech features are among the priorities, the 2020 Pilot should fit the bill. Shoppers are encouraged to test drive both models to see which one checks off the greater number of boxes.